Experience The Ridgeway Trail
The Ridgeway Trail stretches 140 kilometres across scenic countryside from Avebury in Wiltshire to Ivinghoe Beacon in Buckinghamshire and through two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty: the Chiltern Hills and the North Wessex Downs. This routeway is steeped in history, having been used by traders and invaders as far back as 5,000 years ago. Today it is enjoyed by walkers, cyclists and horse riders seeking far-reaching views, historic sites and wildlife.
The ancient White Horse Hill is only 29 kilometres from Oxford, and 20 kilometres away from Watlington. Follow our 3-day trail from White Horse Hill to Thame for a taste of how much there is to see and do in the area.
Day 1 – Faringdon to Wantage
Begin in Faringdon. The town is full of heritage, immediately noticeable in the quaint town centre where you will find old coaching inns, Georgian fronted buildings and the 17th century town hall. Now occupied by a diverse array of independent shops, cafés and restaurants, the town centre is a hive of activity.
Explore The Ridgeway’s history at White Horse Hill, where you will find the internationally renowned Bronze Age White Horse carved into the chalk hillside. This is the highest point in Oxfordshire with views across 6 different counties, and is hugely popular with dog walkers, picnickers and kite fliers alike. There is plenty of parking in the National Trust car park at White Horse Hill.
From White Horse Hill, walk or ride for 2.3 kilometres along The Ridgeway to the prehistoric long barrow of Wayland’s Smithy. It is also worth venturing off the hills into nearby Uffington village where there are pubs, a small museum and a waymarked trail to learn more about the historic buildings in the village. There is also the option to camp under the stars near the White Horse at Britchcombe Farm.
Base yourself near Wantage (14km from White Horse Hill along the Ridgeway) to discover the stories of King Alfred the Great who was born in the town in 849AD. This historic market town offers independent shops, places to eat and a theatre, as well as the Vale and Downland Museum which has won awards for being family friendly. Head west to villages such as Sparsholt for a nice lunch at The Star or Kingston Lisle for a late afternoon walk to the Blowing Stone which King Alfred used to summon his army to battle against the Vikings.
StayCotswold: For a self-catered stay, StayCotswold has a fantastic range of cottages, barns and family homes to hire. Their wide portfolio of luxury self-catering properties can cater for couples looking for a romantic bolthole, to larger family or friends groups looking to get together in Oxfordshire. From secluded rural locations, to village and town properties the StayCotswold portfolio has something for everyone.
Day 2 – Wantage to Wallingford
Walk up to The Ridgeway to see Segsbury Camp hillfort, passing along the chalk stream called the Letcombe Brook and through the historic village of Letcombe Bassett where you may like to stop for lunch at The Greyhound pub. There is also a great day’s cycle ride from Wantage eastwards along a signed cycle route theough the Lockinges and Ginges and Hendreds villages, then up to The Ridgeway to head westwards back to Wantage. There are some great pubs and historic buildings to look out for in the villages, including a village shop from a bygone age in East Hendred!
Goring and Streatley (24km from Wantage along The Ridgeway) is where The Ridgeway meets the River Thames and another National Trail, the Thames Path. Linked by a bridge in 1837, Streatley and Goring are picturesque riverside villages with numerous places to eat, making this a perfect spot for a break.
From Goring, follow The Ridgeway to walk 8.5km along the river to the historic market town of Wallingford, with independent shops, places to eat and stay and a small museum. Families will enjoy Wallingford’s riverside playground and campsite.
The Chequers at Burcot: The Chequers at Burcot is a beautiful thatched public house located in South Oxfordshire – this multi-award-winning gastro pub is located north of Wallingford, along the River Thames, offering a rural retreat after a busy day exploring The Ridgeway. The Chequers has 9 boutique hotel rooms on site, all of the rooms are en-suite and individually designed including all of the luxuries you would expect.
Day 3 – Wallingford to Thame
From Wallingford, there is a scenic day’s walk along The Ridgeway to the attractive historic town of Watlington, home to The Orange Bakery – an artisan bakery selling breads and pastries to fuel you for your walk. This area is known as the Chiltern Hills, famous for its parklands and beechwoods. The first stretch passes along Grim’s Ditch, a ditch and bank boundary thought to date back to Saxon times. Watlington is where a huge hoard of Viking coins was famously found in 2016. Some of these coins displayed the head of King Alfred the Great and a replica display can be seen in Watlington’s library.
Finish your journey in the thriving market town of Thame, perfectly situated at the foot of the Chiltern Hills, just 23km from Oxford. From historic buildings to beautiful parks, the Thame Museum, The Players Theatre, and a vibrant High Street – Thame has lots of exciting attractions and activities to enjoy.